Men vs women: who make better leaders?

A new survey by the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor reveals that women are seen to be better and more effective leaders than men.

The global study surveyed 6,509 people across 13 countries, including South Africa, and asked participants about their views on effective leadership and communication, and the relationship between the two.

For the first time, the group examined the question of leadership and gender, revealing one of the defining facets of the new era of leadership communication: a new, more “feminine” leadership communication model.

According to the survey’s findings, respondents scored female leaders higher on leading by example; being better at communicating in an open and transparent way; more likely to admit mistakes; and bringing out the best in others.

Men were scored higher at making tough decisions and handling controversial issues or crises calmly and confidently.

Men vs Women leaders
Men vs Women leaders

“When probing how well the two genders of leaders perform on key leadership attributes, female leaders were seen as markedly better at displaying far more of the attributes deemed important for effective leaders – with women ranking at the top on all except four of the 14 attributes we looked at and on every one of the four attributes deemed most important by the public,” Ketchum said.

Interestingly, the research also found that, globally, male leaders narrowly edge out their female counterparts – 54% to 46% – as the gender the world expects to navigate us through the challenges of the next five years.

“This is not to say that all future leaders should be women and that men have no place in leadership. Rather, our findings reveal vitally important lessons for leaders of both genders as they continue to grapple with the ongoing leadership crisis.”

Geographically, China, India, Singapore, and Great Britain showed overall support for male leaders, while South Africa, Spain, Germany, and Brazil favoured female leaders.

Leadership crisis

Overall, the report found that a global leadership “crisis” stubbornly persists, as consumers continue to be disillusioned with their leaders.

“Looking at leaders in business, government, community service, trade/labour unions and the not-for-profit sector, only 22% of those surveyed feel leaders are demonstrating effective leadership – down from last year – and even fewer than that are optimistic about seeing any improvement in leadership over the coming year,” Ketchum said.

Disillusionment Index
Disillusionment Index

KLCM’s Global Disillusionment Index shows that Europeans are far less impressed with leaders than the US, Singapore, China, Brazil, India and the UAE – the UK, Spain and France being especially unimpressed.

European countries took 5 of the 6 bottom slots in the Index, with only South Africa breaking into European malaise, the group said.

Despite the apparent “crisis”, leaders in the technology industry rank far higher than any other industry – while the banking industry, while improving since 2013, dropped straight to the bottom of the pile.

“Technology leads the KLCM Global Industry Leadership Index, coming top across every key measure – from leadership and communication to taking responsibility and meeting consumer expectations,” the group said.

Industry leadership Index
Industry leadership Index

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Men vs women: who make better leaders?